The Parable of the Fig Tree

I live in Connecticut where we have plenty of pick-your-own apple orchards to visit in the autumn. I love the crazy looking old trees like this one. They look like a lost cause, but the only reason they are around is because they can still pop out the fruit in season. These warped trees are especially fun when you can still put your kids on your shoulders to "help" you pick the fruit. However, these trees can also be fragile. This is not a tree I would let my helpers play on. The deformity does not prevent it from producing fruit, but the deformity does make it susceptible to damage. In other words, there is plenty of fruit to be had if we protect the tree from stresses that other trees could endure. Additionally, much of this tree's productivity would be limited if it were brought into conformity with how a tree should look like. To judge the tree and take a saw to it before it has an opportunity to demonstrate its fruit production would be foolish.

In Luke's gospel, chapter 13 Jesus tells a brief story about a fruit tree and patience.

Luke 13:6-9 Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. 7 So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’ 8 “‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. 9 If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’”

My previous on treating our transgendered neighbors as equal human beings in need of some public accommodation generated a heated discussion on my Facebook account. It seemed to me that those who disagreed with my idea were those who saw their neighbors unacceptable to God as long as they lived out their transgender identities. Transgendered neighbors are expected to conform to their equipment and expected to repent of their sin of transgenderism and choose to not be transgender anymore by the grace of God (even though there is no proof text condemning transgenderism in the Bible that I know of). However, as @XianJaneway shared on Twitter, the church has an extremely high tolerance and patience for child molesters who look fine externally but bear mealy, wormy, poisonous and harmful fruit in their lives. The examples are practically new every day...the Catholic church moving rapist priests around, rapist missionary boarding school teachers, rapist pastors, pastors who defend predatory parishioners. All of them claim God's grace. And congregations will even give that grace, foolishly. The offenders know all the right words, dress all the right ways, help all the right people, but are socially dangerous people. Transgendered people are not dangerous. Even when they can say the right things, even when they can exhibit the good Christ like fruit of love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control, so many can't make time to wait and see.

I don't know about fig trees, but an apple tree around here can take up to five years before it starts to produce fruit. The church that demands branches sawn off to conform to what a tree should look like in their group, may miss out on an extremely abundant production of good fruit. "Ugly," non-nonconforming trees might be the most productive in the orchard if left to the Caretaker instead of the criticism of all the other trees.


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